"During Wain's life, though, his fortunes reversed several times. Believed to be suffering from schizophrenia, Wain lived his final years in institutions. Eight of his cat drawings—which range from cuddly to psychedelic—came to be known as the 'Famous Series' and for years would be offered up as a the stages of a deteriorating mind, illustrated. But the truth is a bit more complicated." (Previously)
Louis Wain became one of the most famous British illustrators of the late Victorian and Edwardian era after trying to cheer up his wife Emily by drawing portraits of their pet cat, Peter. In addition to publishing a popular children's book about kittens, he was a founder of the U.K's National Cat Club who was instrumental in promoting the Cat Fancy movement, which encouraged Britons of all classes to view cats as lovable pets instead of household pests. Unfortunately, after Wain's wife Emily died of breast cancer, Wain gradually went mad due to psychosis and late onset schizophrenia, ending up in London's notorious Bethlehem Hospital (the etymological origin for the word bedlam). While at Bedlam, Wain continued to draw, but his cat portraits transformed into pure geometric abstraction and psychedelic fractals, but some see harbingers of madness in cryptically titled works, such as Early Indian Irish and The Fire of the Mind Agitates the Atmosphere. For more insight on Wain, check out this 1896 interview and this short film dramatizing the progression of Wain's schizophrenia through his art.
The strange cat-world of Louis Wain. Wain's cat drawings, once cute, took an interesting turn later in life.